Monday, 24 August 2009

NiGHTS into Comics - Issue 2

Last issue, Roger was introduced to Reala and we knew nothing good could come of that. Now, in issue 2, we join a NiGHTS-infused Elliot being filled in by a Nightopian as to what the plan of action is. Isn't it convenient that like the reader, Elliot has also forgotten what happened last issue and thankfully is given a short summary? I've also noticed that the Nightopians speak all in lower case. Reminds me of e.e. cummings or the bully from Calvin & Hobbes.

In an odd twist, Elliot awakes to have NiGHTS in HIS body, with NiGHTS in complete control. Elliot (or is that ELLiOT?) is on a mission to protect Claire while the two are on a fieldtrip to the Twin Seeds Museum. NiGHTS, being the wacky jester that he is, assumes that he'll fly there with ease.

I'm usually not one to use the word "FAIL", but this is a FAIL.

Thankfully NiGHTS didn't fracture Elliot's collarbone via faceplant. Meanwhile, Claris arrives at the museum and chats with some friends about singing in the big Centennial Show. Elliot arrives, and in a very "Spidey-sense" fashion, detects the dream energy inside of Claris. Speaking of Spider-Man, this panel reminded me of that famous Spider-Man cover.

Elliot's stares are mistaken for infatuation and teenage awkwardness hilarity ensues. Then, the kids enter the museum and the tour begins. The history of the Twin Seeds spire is told, with the tour guide claiming that the architect (seen in issue 1) was such a visionary that he was designing in the Art Deco style before it was even invented! Now wait a second. If the architect was indeed designing in the art deco style "before that style was invented", then wouldn't the architect simply be the inventor of the Art Deco style? How can one create something before it is invented? That's like saying that Ferdinand Verbiest, a member of a Jesuit mission in China, built the first steam-powered vehicle around 1672... before the automobile was invented! No, Ferdinand created the first self-propelled vehicle, thus he (in a sense) invented the automobile.

Designer rant over. Anyway, Elliot, in his NiGHTS controlled state, grabs the microphone away from the misinformed tour guide and tells his classmates of Wizeman and his plans for dream domination. Meanwhile in another part of the museum, Elliot is in a Reala controlled state of mind and is spinning his version of Nightopea as a confused Claris watches. We then return to Nightopia to visit Wizeman in his castle, as he spends half a page telling a Roger controlled Reala what we already now. If that wasn't enough unnecessary exposition, Jackle enters to tell Wizeman about what happened to Gillwing in issue 1.

EXPOSiTION into Dreams...

After several pages of dialog and exposition, Jackle mixes it up... literally! Jackle reveals that he has kidnapped one of the two main Nightopians and intends to fuse the cute little guy with one of those chicken Nightmarens.

The result? CHAOS! Okay, not the same chaos as seen in Sonic Adventure, but it IS a funny coincidence that evil virtual pet breeding and the word "chaos" is used in an adaptation of a Sonic Team game a year and a half before Sonic Adventure hit stores. With the fusion acting as a truth serum, the evil Nightopian explains what NiGHTS and the kids are up to and how to stop them.

Returning to the waking world, Elliot and Claris are enjoying a museum lunch that is cut short by Shleep dispatched by Wizeman. Elliot attempts to stop the Shleep from putting CLaris to shleep, er... sleep, but is halted by Jackle. Jackle, ensuring my favoritism, utters my favorite line in the mini-series:

In his rush to confront Jackle, Elliot trips and passes out, allowing NiGHTS to come alive in the dream world. The Shleep reaches Claris and sends her to the dream world as well. This all leads to a NiGHTS-fused Claris facing off against Gulpo the giant fish. A major gripe I have with this issue is that full pages are given for exposition, and yet a complete boss battle begins and ends in the same panel.

One panel, uncolored AND off model. Worst. Battle. Ever.

NiGHTS returns to Elliot, leaving Claris alone in the fish bowl with a hint that if she can sing a high note, she'll shatter the bowl. Claris succeeds and escapes, only to encounter Wizeman. Meanwhile (I've been saying "meanwhile" a lot, haven't I), NiGHTS battles Jackle (off screen) and the good Nightopian encounters the evil Nightopean. With the good guys wrapped up in their own fights, Claris is tempted by Wizeman to receive the gift of fame in exchange for her dream energy. Claris foolishly accepts and loses her energy, in turn causing NiGHTS to lose his connection with her. Returning to the waking world, Roger presents Claris with her invite to sing. Little does she know that with good dreams come... nightmares!

Overall, issue 2 is the weakest of the series. Lots of chatter, little action. Despite being the weakest, there is a large display of villains, and the setup for part 3 is promising. Join us for part 3 AND the announced winner in NiGHTS into Dreams into Comics part 3!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Yo dawg, I heard you like Sonic... I put Sonic in yo Sonic, so you can play while you play.


Ok, forget that...

Have you heard about SAGE? No, I'm not talking about 4chan, but Sega Amateur Games Expo. First time I heard about it, actually. Apparently, and as the name implies, it's a display of fan-made Sonic games, most of them resembling the old 2D games of yore, while others attempting a shot at 3D (and, like Sega, failing miserably). But why am I talking about this in the Sega Junkyard? Because of this little gem.

Probably the only fan-made 3D Sonic game not to suck, through the use of a somewhat archaic game engine, unintentionally or not, it ends up looking a lot like a Saturn game, only with the obvious bump in resolution and texture detail. Ok, maybe not exactly like a Saturn game, but at least like a Model 2 one, and that's close enough for me.

So, I thought I would just let you know about it, in case you desperately want to play something that loosely resembles what Sonic X-Treme could've been. Demo available at the official site (downloading now).

Also, "sage goes in all fields" (kudos to whoever understands this obscure reference :P )

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Starry NiGHTS

"A wistful post-impressionist masterpiece if there ever was one, this painting demonstrates a masterful use of color to set a mood. The inclusion of a figure inside the largest star has stirred great debate amongst critics and collectors. Does it represent God, or is it just an anthropomorphic purple... thing? We may never know. We can say with no doubt, however, that this work is meant to stir in us feelings of childhood innocence and longing for a time when simpler things were enough to appease us.

With each passing year, everything -- technology, literature, art -- becomes increasingly advanced. While some greet this inevitable march towards an undefined, unknown end with open arms, others ache for simpler times, where just running around collecting everyday items like screws and old coins with nary a care in the world was enough. Viewing this painting makes us feel like that time is still here." Justin Massoud is back!

Well... sort of.

I browsed the insertcredit pages - which you should do as well at least once a week! - and there it popped to my eyes. Apparently one of the most famous Sega Saturn fan websites is back again since january. The downside: it's merely an archive now. But it's a nice thing for anyone who remembers it and wants to re-read some reviews.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Back on tracks

Hi folks! How ya doin'? I surely missed you! Lately my life has been a bit crazy, with many things taking up my time, and sadly I ended up neglecting this place a bit. This is not to say I'm totally back, but I'll try to drop by more often.

First things first, the header picture was gone. Or at least in my browser it was. As a good Portuguese man, I did nothing and waited, hoping that it would eventually come back by itself. It didn't. So, thanks to the wonderful website that is the waybackmachine, I managed to track down the old header and put it back on. Hope you'll like it.

Second, I got myself a new rig! (that's slang for a computer). It's a fucking beast, a quadcore 2,50 GHz CPU, with 4Gb of RAM and a HD4890 graphics card. Guess what I'm playing? That's right, fucking Panzer Dragoon Saga!

Now, now, that's not to say recent games suck, I'm not that kind of retrogamer. In fact I love new games and that was partly why I bought the new pc (the other part was, my old one sucked!), and I'm also playing Crysis, and Call of Duty, and more recently Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. But this is a Saturn place, so it's convenient that I talk about my Saturn games, and after neglecting the game for a couple weeks (setting up a new pc is hard work, I had to install the OS myself and all that shit) I finally went back to it. Last night. At 2 am. Nice!

Third, recently I got a fellow pc gamer who used to have a Saturn when he was younger to get back to it thanks to the wonders of the SSF emulator. That's what was missing in his life and he's a happy man now. Emulation, turning grown men into little kids since 19xx...whatever...

And basically that's it, got nothing more to say, so goodbye all and make sure you take good care of this little shrine while I'm gone :)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Good Place for Saturn Backups

I'll keep this short and sweet. In lieu of one of the recent posts at SJY, I decided to share a forum that provides access to a lot of Sega Saturn games. If you know how to burn backups, and have a Saturn that can play backups, or know how to do the "swap trick", this is a pretty great resource.

Some of you may already know/use this forum.

The link is:

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Battle of Castlevania

Over the last few months I've finally been able to spend some serious quality time with both the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation versions of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The original game was released in 1997 for the Sony Playstation, and then released in 1998 for the Sega Saturn, only in Japan as Akumajo Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoku. I first bought the Sega Saturn version in February of this year, but since I had never played the game before, I had a fair amount of trouble navigating the item menus (everything is in Japanese). I could have downloaded the X-Box live version to get the english language game, but I decided to look for the original Playstation version on Ebay. About 1 month later I scored a very reasonably priced "greatest hits" version of the game, and started playing through that. I still haven't beaten the game, but I know it well enough now that I can go back to the Saturn version and now have no trouble navigating the item/spell menus etc. I've read quite a bit about this game on discussion boards and other web sites, and there is quite a bit of back and forth as to which version of the game is better, Sega Saturn or Playstation. I thought that it would be fun to compare the two, and let every one know at the SJY which version I like better. So let's get started shall we....

Cover Art: The Playstation version has a picture of Dracula's castle, whilst the Saturn version has a really nice hand drawn picture of some of the game's characters. Winner - Sega Saturn

Graphics: The Sega Saturn is supposedly the better of the two systems when it comes to 2D games, so why are the graphics of the Playstation version better? Overall the games look very similar, but the Playstation has better partical & transparency effects, and does not have any slow down. I'm not gonna lie, the Saturn version is plagued with slow down. Why this game did not use the 4Meg RAM cart I will never know. All of the other graphics, i.e. bad guys, level backgrounds, magic, looks nice on both systems. The FMV in the Playstation version looks much crisper than on the Saturn. And don't get me wrong, the Saturn version still looks great, but just not quite as nice as the Playstation.
Winner - Playstation

Gameplay: Both versions play awesome. With respect to control etc, both versions are very similar, and neither system has an advantage. The Saturn version has some extra areas to explore, additional bad guys, and allows for more playable characters from the beginning of the game. The Playstation version makes the game map accessible during game play, whilst the Saturn version makes the player enter the item menu, and then load the map. Since this game requires a lot of map checking, the advantage definitely goes to the Playstation here. The Saturn version also takes a lot longer to load between different areas, and menus.
Winner - Tie

Sound: Again, both versions are very similar. I don't really have a great TV either, so it's hard to compare the detail in the level music or sound effects. The voice acting in the Playstation version is pretty bad, and since the Saturn version is Japanese, it's hard for me to tell if it's cheesy or not.
Winner - Tie

Overall Winner: Playstation Version

Sad but true, even with the extras, the Saturn version does not stand up to the Playstation. The main reasons the Playstation version is better is 1) no visible slow down; 2) slightly better graphics; 3) more accessible game map; and 4) shorter load times. Both versions are awesome, and I'm really fortunate to own them both, but I'll be playing the Playstion version more often. If the RAM expansion had been implemented on the Saturn release I think it would have been a whole other story, but sadly, that's not the case. If you have a PS1/2/3 , XBox 360 , or a Saturn that can play imports, you should definitely pick up this title. No matter what system you play it on, it's one of the best, if not the best, 2D platformer out there.